As Mitchell Cline pours several pounds of coffee beans from Honduras into the hopper of his coffee roaster, he stretches a little bit and lofts the bucket above his head.
The beans clatter as they slide into the orange and chrome machine.
In a little more than 13 minutes, they will be roasted – making their way through the bright greens, golds and finally dark browns and the subtle snapping of the crack of the coffee beans – before they are removed from the heat, cooled and destoned.
While Cline makes it look simple, it’s a process requiring balance between the right amount of heat, energy and air flow to come out with a cup of coffee that tastes good, has the right fragrance and flavor drift.
“It’s a delicate dance in the process,” he said.
Once it’s cooled and placed in buckets, Cline drives it a few miles to the coffee shop on Main Street in Springville, where it will be bagged up and sold or ground up for someone’s coffee order.
“You can’t get fresher than that,” Cline said as he drank a cup of coffee made from beans blended that morning.
The store opened in November 2016, but Cline, a Springville resident, had been roasting coffee before then. He said he decided to get into the coffee business after he was laid off from his previous job.
“I was like, ‘Do I really want to go back to just working for someone, running, running, running, chasing the dollar and making someone else rich?’ Nah, I don’t,” Cline said.
That’s why he decided to start Hobble Creek Coffee Co., the first coffee roaster in Utah County.
“I just started thinking about it and I started looking online and all of a sudden I found a coffee roaster up in Idaho. We were like, ‘Let’s drive by and look at this thing,'” Cline said. “We drove up there and I got a Deidrich IR-12 picked it up the next day, threw it in the car and drove it back.”
Since then he has expanded to roasting coffee beans for other shops, including Rugged Grounds in Provo, Antonella’s Cafe in Orem and the chain Even Stevens.
Cline, who was a chef for 20 years, also works with those places to create different profiles and specific blends to best complement the menus.
“You can look at a menu, and you can say, ‘What’s going to be the coffee or a few coffees that are going to best facilitate this menu’ and be able to have it be completely off the wall,” he said.
Cline said by roasting the beans, which come from countries across Central America and Africa, himself, he is able to bring out the different flavors of the beans and combine them with others to create different blends.
It’s those specialized blends and roasts that bring people to the shop from outside of Springville and outside of Utah County, Cline said.
Cline is a self-described “coffee snob.” He said he’s been drinking coffee since he was a child, but it wasn’t until he went to Blue Bottle Coffee in San Francisco that he started thinking about it in a different light.
“It was a new experience for me, and at that point I was like, ‘Wow, coffee is coming in a new direction now,'” he said. “That’s when I really started looking into it and buying smaller batches and roasting at home.”
And he did roast small batches at home, originally in a pan on his stove.
“I started off roasting in a pan, just on the stove,” Mitchell Cline said. “I would buy five pounds of beans off of eBay and then I’d just sit and jump the beans until they were roasted, and my wife would promptly say, ‘You’re cleaning that up.'”
Concepcion Cline said she’s always been a coffee-drinker, too, because it’s a big part of the culture in her home country, Mexico.
“You give the kids drip coffee with milk; that is something very common in Mexico for breakfast,” she said.
However, things have changed since they opened Hobble Creek Coffee Co., Concepcion Cline said.
“We have learned so much about coffee,” she said with a laugh.
In addition to the coffees and teas, which they get from Grey Mountain Herbs in Provo, they also serve breakfast. The menu includes French toast with a coffee syrup, breakfast burrito and omelettes, among other items.
“For the most part you see coffee shops that have the coffee and just probably a few pastries, but not many coffee shops are doing a real breakfast,” Concepcion Cline said.
In addition to offering high quality coffee and food, Concepcion Cline said the regular customers know their family because they are always in the store to make sure the customers get their orders the way they like them.
She said customers are always curious about the new blends and want to try them.
“Every time they come, they’ll say, ‘What’s new today?’ they’re like, ‘Well, I’ve already had this, but what new blend is this? I want to have that,'” Concepcion Cline said. “There’s people that even without tasting the coffee they are like, ‘I know it’s going to be good, just give me the newest, whatever new blend you have,’ which is interesting. They trust us and they know they are going to get a good coffee.”
They also host groups and talk to them about what goes into making a good cup of coffee, including information on French presses, drip coffee and pulling shots.
“That’s the important part: educating people’s palates and showing them there is more than the standard cake in a cup lattes,” he said.
Mitchell Cline said that as their business grows, he would like to move to a new location to allow the roaster to be in the coffee shop.
“We’re looking around trying to find somewhere we want to do that, but I think it would be a great experience for customers to see the roasting process while they are in the drive through. That’s the end goal – to go a little more serious on the coffee side,” he said.
By Shelby Slade
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